Aaron Almeida ‘2021
If you have come across this amongst your early years of adolescence and hardship, I am truly sorry. It is highly likely that nothing in this work will aid you in your current situation. The pain you feel now won’t stop for what will seem to be a very long time and the only condolence worth offering to someone in such a place as you is that time is your friend. If you last out, then time will make it better.
But, if you have just narrowly passed beyond the numb rage and sadness, then you have entered into the exponentially more painful place of cognizant loathing. Something has convinced you, even if only in a tiniest modicum of a sense, that how you feel is not how you have to feel, and more importantly not how you want to feel. Perhaps it was motivated by an epiphany, or perhaps a traumatic instance.
Or perhaps you finally bubbled over too frequently or with so much power that it left you alone and shocked. When I combusted for the final time I did so with such violence that it stripped the world down to the floor, and in the following months I floated alone amongst the nothing. This is for those who are still floating.
During your adolescence you may have acquired some destructive habits. Note that I didn’t say bad, simply destructive. I will never deem them bad because you most likely formed them purely out of bewildered survivorship. Maybe it isn’t your fault and maybe it is, regardless of that fact every teen is thrown into the same fire so you can’t be blamed. Without the finalized identity of adulthood or the confidence of childhood we all just clutch to any habit that eases the pain.
You survived, even if just by the tips of your fingers. And now you can make the choice to break or bond with the habits you’ve formed, because either way you will need to accept them. Breaking out of these tendencies will be much harder than bonding, for in essence breaking them is simply fighting the bond. But, I believe it to be possibly the most important venture for adolescents, for it ensures these tendencies don’t formalize into their permanent identity. If you don’t try now it will be near impossible to start later.
The choice is yours and there is no shame in either side, only consequences.
Thoughts, Feelings, Actions
The crux of this work is to present strategies that truly worked for me and leave out the ones that were a waste of time and or made me fall deeper into unwanted habits. Some may work for you, others may not but hopefully it gives you a foundation from which you can break free. Some of the following reprogramming strategies I devised myself, but most were learned from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, which deals intensively with harmful tendencies and programming healthy coping mechanisms. The book is a workbook in the truest sense and provides structure and accountability. It is worth your time and money.
The best way to change the way you feel now is to modify your actions. They are the most tangible link in the chain that is your reality. This chain is called the triangular “Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, Model” pictured above. The model is great because it wasn’t created for the sake of improvement or reprogramming, but simply to display humans’ worldly construct. Destructive thoughts as a result of our environment may cause us to pick up destructive actions and both will exacerbate feelings of loathing. Likewise picking up an unhealthy habit can lead to declines in either two points. Each of the three aspects of our being can positively or negatively impact the others. But I’m positive you already knew that.
The reason I bring this model up at all is because changing how you think now and how your family has trained you to think is absurdly overwhelming. Where do you start when you utterly despise yourself? How is anyone meant to feel differently about someone they wish to exterminate? Take another look at the triangle and note the arrows. Just as your hateful thoughts lead you to hateful actions, you can reverse engineer the hatred through your actions.
The best part about reprogramming my actions was that I could still hate myself. There was no contradiction. When deconstructing my feelings and thoughts it almost seemed like I needed to snap my fingers or recieve a sign from God. With my actions I let my loathing boil over and crackle white hot. So many of the habits I built made me feel like a disgusting loser and everytime I performed them I hated myself more. I wanted to exterminate everything in me I was revolted by and so I did. It almost allowed me to go utterly brain dead and still embrace the hate while at the same time refocusing it.
Many of the strategies that follow will be centralized around physical patterns, because it is a humble place to start. That is the line of reasoning as to why. Note, I am not a therapist. I am a teenager just like you, so I know that any and all of these strategies should be paired with safe professional therapy.
Puff, Robert, and James Seghers. Everything Guide Anger Management Proven Techniques to Understand and Control Anger. Adams Media, 2014.